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Problem-based learning in Higher Education: Theory into practice

By Terry King and Pat Paterson


Abstract: The focus on the quality of teaching in Higher Education has never been sharper. The desire to improve the ability of graduates to meet the needs of the ‘knowledge economy’ is leading to a questioning of current teaching methods, in both face-to-face and online mode. Learning theorists offer a diversity of approaches to learning and this paper considers various models and what they can contribute to solving the problem of how students achieve deep learning and higher learning outcomes. It is suggested that Ausubel’s expository approach is still a common model for teaching in Higher Education and, while it does encourage deep learning, this model cannot develop student abilities in reflection and research, nor encourage innovation; for these, much can be learnt from constructivist, cyclical models. Current attempts to do this have already lead to the introduction of problemsolving learning based on problems of design, decision or construction. While an improvement on the expository approach, the authors suggest that problem-solving learning has its own limitations and weaknesses. The model developed in the paper stresses the need for the introduction of collaborative, problem-based learning using ‘problems of explanation ’ which promote knowledge building, which is inherently generative and explicitly encourages the development of a research culture. The paper discusses the characteristics of an environment for computer-supported knowledge building and the advantages this offers

Topics: learning theory, problem-based learning, knowledge building
Year: 2009
OAI identifier: oai:CiteSeerX.psu:
Provided by: CiteSeerX
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